The party is pumping, the pool is in hot demand, the BBQ is smoking away, and the kids are … actually, where are the kids??
I recently shared the above video on Facebook which prompted a dear friend to send me a life saving message. Millie was playing peek-a-boo in our esky, and although it looked harmless, and she was safe because I was supervising, Jasmin, who works for Swim Australia saw something different, something dangerous. And it wasn’t the fact that I asked her to give me a beer – that’s probably another issue, and I don’t think I’ll be winning parent of the year any time soon. It was something much more deadly for a two-year-old.
“I saw little Millie in the esky on FB the other day – the little cutie pie! While there wasn’t any water in that esky, I just want to warn you how easy it could be for a young one to fall in and drown if it had melting ice in there. I’m about to chat with a family who nearly lost their little girl, when she was found head down and feet hanging out of an esky at a BBQ. They saved her just in time … accidents happen, and often when you least expect it!”
Her message made me feel sick, because only hours before that esky had been full of water – we carelessly let the ice melt in it.
To thank Jasmin I want to share Swim Australia’s latest message. They are simply asking parents to be particularly vigilant with water and kids this Australia day. They warn, “If you’re planning an Aussie Day party near any body of water, remain vigilant, as drowning doesn’t take a break – even on a national holiday.”
Drowning is the number one cause of child related deaths in Australia.
“Often when frivolity is at the forefront, and alcohol is thrown into the mix, proper supervision is overlooked. While many may think a party environment – filled with adults – is a pretty ‘safe’ place for kids to swim, if children aren’t constantly supervised by a responsible adult, a drowning tragedy could result,” Swim Australia CEO Ross Gage says.
Last year, 31 children under the age of five drowned – 61% of those deaths occurred within swimming pools. The National Drowning Report also shows summer as the peak drowning period.
Drowning deaths can occur in pools, oceans, creeks, dams, rivers, paddling pools, animal troughs, irrigation channels, bird baths, fountains, even ice chests.
So come this Australia Day, to help protect your family in and around water, Swim Australia insists a designated supervisor must be assigned and know the whereabouts of all children at all times. They should be of adult age, possess good swimming skills, have a phone for ‘emergency use only’ on hand, and know how to perform CPR in the event of an incident.
“Never prop the gate open, even for a moment – you could forget to close it, and a child could slip through unnoticed,” says Gage. “Always supervise a paddle pool and empty them immediately after use. Ice chests full of melting ice are a big risk also to little children, so ensure they’re latched properly.”
“And finally, if a child is missing, check the pool and other waterways first before checking in bedrooms and cupboards etc – seconds count,” Gage added.
Recently, Swim Australia and EnergyAustralia launched the WaterHERO campaign reinforcing water safety, and the effective ‘Layers of Protection’.
The ‘Layers of Protection’ to be applied at all times in and around water include:
Be Aware: Don’t let the kids out of your sight.
This is fundamental, and should be performed by a responsible adult. All non-swimmers and children under five, must be supervised within arm’s reach.
Be Secure: Keep fences and gates locked up tight.
Pool fences and gates need to be regularly inspected, maintained and meet government requirements. Objects and potential climbing apparatuses like pot plants and chairs, need to be removed.
Be Confident: Learn to Swim, and how to get to safety.
Practicing such skills provides another layer of protection, but should never be substituted for proper supervision and barriers.
Be Prepared: Always have a plan in case of emergency
Check the pool and other waterways first if a child is missing, then check bedrooms, cupboards etc. Ensure your resuscitation skills are up to date, and permanently display at least one resuscitation or CPR Chart in the pool area.
“Drowning doesn’t discriminate – accidents can and do happen, even on holidays, often when you least expect it, in a matter of seconds, and sometimes in complete silence,” says Gage. “Reduce the risk, swim SAFER and enjoy the holiday.”